Flash Fiction No. 28


To Be Sorry


It is a word of convenience to some. To others it is something but not enough. These words are meaningless. All words are meaningless without truth and conviction.

How do you tell somebody that you are sorry for their loss and let them know you mean it? They smile and thank you but their hearts are little affected by these worthless whispers of intent.

There is no way for you to help with these melancholy mumblings too often heard to mean nothing and only used to escape awkward situations. You cannot feel sorry, for being sorry equates to pity and pity is not interpreted as a well wish from a compassionate heart.

I think all of this as I lay the wreath of baby’s breath and white roses on the ground by the grave side. Mourners were meandering. The family were lingering, too sore to leave their one beloved.

And I stood thinking to myself of how I cannot tell these people that I am sorry. I am sorry that a life has slipped away in their midst, but what possible solace can my words bring them?

I am sorry.

Like another pinprick to their hearts, reminding them that yet another person can do nothing, cannot bring back their beloved, cannot help and cannot return the beauty of that lost love.

I am sorry.

I can’t bring myself to say it, but society says I must. I brush grass away from the gentle wreath, my unspoken sensitivities wrapped as floral decay. I try not to think of the silk petals turning to crisp brown tears.

Leaden feet pull me towards the small gathering of immediate family. I take his hand in mine. Our eyes lock and I see that his are red and swollen. The urge to reach out and embrace him almost overcomes me but it is dampened by cold propriety. He needs to be strong for his guests. I understand this. I understand that I cannot hold him and allow him to cry now. It would be too much.

“I’m not sorry.”

I choke the words through a hoarse throat full of withheld tears. His eyes light with shock, but I continue.

“I’m not sorry for her life. I only wish she hadn’t gone yet.”

He nods. We part and I say no more, still haunted by meaningless words. I know that he will hear many more of them today and that they cannot console him. I know that when I return him he will still be alone no matter how many people spread their love around him. And I know that I cannot change this.

I can only offer meaningless words. Meaningless words like ‘sorry’ that could not convey the deep compassion down in my soul.

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